Student Roles within Sponsoring Companies

Walsh Environmental:
Walsh provided entry-level employment involving assistance on various scientific projects. Some examples of student work were: preparing CAD drawings; assisting with asbestos inspections; packing soil samples from oil/natural gas field inspections; soil sampling at oil/natural gas fields; conducting air quality monitoring; preparing paperwork for various projects; and other office duties as assigned.

Asbestos is common in household items such as ceiling tile, drywall, floor tiles and paint texture, and is regulated upon removal from a building. Walsh performed asbestos inspections, especially for Colorado Mesa University, which was expanding its campus into the surrounding neighborhood through eminent domain. CAD drawings were utilized to formulate a removal plan and then samples were taken. Each sample location was marked on a blueprint and the samples were sent to a lab, and then results were entered onto the blueprint. Walsh oversaw the implementation of the removal plan by a third party. Buildings inspected during the month of the internship were demolished within 30 days of inspection.

Getting to go out into the field was the most exciting part of the Walsh worksite because of the beautiful scenery and technology involved. The soil sampling was done in the majestic mountains of Colorado, whose sheer magnitude was awe-inspiring. It was interesting to see where the oil and gas were coming from – the highlands of Colorado are supplying energy just like the plains of Texas and the Gulf region. Some testing was done in the back of a pickup truck – a makeshift laboratory – that used spectroscopic analysis to identify material, revealing a rough sketch of the quality of the soil. If, for example, the site was still high in arsenic, EPA regulations required the company to dig deeper to ensure the soil was clean enough to be at a safe level after drilling. If this was not done, the drill site could be shut down or the company fined. Walsh served as an independent auditor, helping to keep the oil company within regulations.


Geneva Energy Markets:
Geneva Energy Markets (GEM) provided an entry-level internship.  Some of the student assistance provided was: researching the Dodd–Frank Act; researching members of Congress who had an interest in or influence on the Dodd–Frank Act; organizing eight years of data tables from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and InterContinentalExchange; entering daily data about closing prices; and building graphs showing the last ten years of commodity prices.
The experiences during the GEM month were very diverse…from eating in the same restaurant as Keira Knightley and seeing Gwenyth Paltrow and Morgan Freeman on the street, to going to Broadway shows such as Wicked and Zarkana by Cirque du Soleil, to playing pick-up basketball on the famous “city” courts of New York. On the job, the technology was incredible – nearly 80 computers occupied a room at the service of only five traders, with each trader monitoring up to 15 screens for himself. Each trader operated on an electronic market via telephone and instant messaging to make deals involving anywhere from 1 to 100,000 barrels of oil per trade. Other employees spent their time enhancing the company’s competitive edge by developing an algorithm-based computer program that would be used to buy and sell faster than currently possible. Visiting the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange was fascinating because of the history that it held. Before the advent of computers, a stockholder would call his broker and ask them to, for example, buy 100 barrels of oil. The trader would yell this information to his runner, who would then dash out to the floor and shout that he needed 100 barrels at a certain price. Another trader would agree, they would write the deal on a card, and then throw it to a man with a fishnet in the “pit,” an area specifically designed to collect these cards so that the trade could be submitted. Now, trades are made electronically so they are faster and don’t require the middlemen. The floor is not as chaotic as it once was, now dealing mainly in odd numbers (for example, if someone wanted to trade 587 barrels), but it was extremely interesting to get to see it in action.

The culmination of the month with GEM was a trip to Washington, D.C., during which we met with a lobbying firm who worked to educate Congressional members on electronic trading and the details within the Dodd–Frank reform. Various aspects of the reform were discussed with Congressional staff and members of Congress, many of whom had strong stances on the issue, (both positive and negative). We were in Washington the day Congress had to vote on funding the federal budget, as the government faced an impending shutdown, so it was exciting to watch the action and feel of the buzz on Capitol Hill.


University of Maryland Baltimore:

The University of Maryland Baltimore provided the position of an intern to the President. Most of the internship assistance dealt with the University of Maryland’s White Paper about changing the way that health care services are provided to the citizens of Maryland together with assistance concerning the University of Maryland Baltimore’s Childhood Obesity Summit.

In Maryland, the state’s graduate school educational system located in Baltimore is contained within seven graduate colleges: Medicine, Law, Social Work, Pharmacy, Dentistry, Graduate and Nursing. Dr. Jay Perman, the president of the University of Maryland Baltimore, met with the University of Maryland undergraduate Presidents and graduate and undergraduate deans to discuss a proposal for more cohesive health care delivery and education, to be contained in a detailed study (the “White Paper”). I had the opportunity to join Dr. Perman during many of these discussions. The White Paper is important because there is much speculation about the possibility of a change in the way health care payment works. At present, hospitals are generally paid per person through Medicare on the costs estimated to have been spent on a particular patient. In the future it is anticipated that hospitals and providers may be given a lump sum and told to share it among an allocated number of patients. If this change takes place, costs would have to be reduced, so the need for doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other medical professionals to collaborate exists. In order to ensure that these professionals are an efficient and effective health care team, it is important that they know how and what the other team members have been trained to do. Dr. Perman proposed a collaboration of the colleges and universities to study exactly that issue.

Dr. Perman is still a practicing Gastro-Pediatrician, and once a week Dr. Perman conducts the “President’s Clinic”, in which a student from each of the seven graduate colleges work together as a health care team to see patients. He believes that these opportunities working with students outside of their normal college promotes interdisciplinary collaboration he also believes this can educate a doctor on the importance of the perspectives of a pharmacist, nurse, or a lawyer can lead to a deeper understanding of the health care system. It was inspiring to see his assembled team in action during my month internship in Baltimore.

Dr. Perman is also passionate about the prevention of childhood obesity. Obese children have a very high risk for being obese as adults, which in turn means greater odds for heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. He believes the best remedy is prevention. The Childhood Obesity Summit was held so that healthcare workers, members of Congress, and other influential stakeholders could discuss how to teach children the importance of exercise and how to choose foods that are better for their health.

Silver Group:

Silver Group provided three different work segments in its internship opportunity. The first segment was for two weeks as an entry-level cook at the Long John Silver’s restaurant in Clay County, Kentucky. The second segment was for a week as an assistant manager at the Long John Silver’s in Whitley County, Kentucky. The third segment was for a week as an assistant to the district manager, who oversaw the operations of nine restaurants in Southern Kentucky and Northeastern Tennessee. The duties at these different locations included cooking the items that were sold on the Long John Silver’s menu, operating the registers, making runs to the bank to deposit cash and opening and closing store locations.

Frying fish was a humbling job. Instead of college students with their grand dreams of changing the world, many employees had very remote thoughts of advancement. Most were content to provide for their family and have a bit left over at the end of the month. These employees earned my respect as they tried their best to please customers, some of whom would complain just to complain. Also, it was humbling to see many employees and customers who lived paycheck to paycheck. At the first of the month, families would come from very rural areas to treat their family to a meal of fried fish at Long John Silver’s. A fast food restaurant was a luxury for many customers in this remote and rural section of Kentucky. It made me appreciate the opportunities I have in life even more.

As an assistant manager, I was either the first one there to open the store or one of the last to leave to handle the closing. Equipment needed to be turned on in the morning and shut down at night, and sometimes the previous shift did not prepare the equipment for the next shift like they were supposed to, thus increasing the next shift’s workload. It was my job to help smooth over problems like those and to make sure the shift ran efficiently.

As an assistant to the district manager, we visited every store under his jurisdiction and performed health code inspections. We also went over employee procedures, discussed operations with managers, pitched in where help was needed, and fixed machinery. Each store had 20-40 employees, and the district manager was in charge of 9 stores, so quite a few people depended on him.

Silver Group paid for promising employees to attend the Get Motivated Business Seminar in Lexington, Kentucky during the month of my RWL internship. By providing up-and-coming managers the opportunity to attend, Silver Group rewarded good work within the company by cultivating leadership, which in turn benefited both parties: better employees work harder for the company and have a greater chance for advancement.


Operation UNITE is an organization created in 2003 by Kentucky Congressman Hal Rogers that is dedicated to combating substance abuse in Kentucky. The group’s name “UNITE” is an acronym for Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment and Education, which represents their three-pronged approach: INVESTIGATION, TREATMENT and EDUCATION.

Servicing the 29 counties of Kentucky’s Fifth District, Operation UNITE works to rid Kentucky’s communities of illegal drug use through undercover investigations, treatments for substance abusers, and educating the public about the dangers of drugs.
Over the history of this non-profit it has been responsible for over 3,588 arrests with a 96.7% conviction rate. It has also provided funding of over $3 million to community coalitions. Most importantly, Operation UNITE has engaged over 60,000 youth in UNITE-sponsored activities revolving around educational initiatives.

During my internship, I assisted with the brainstorming of general plans outlining a new marketing item, One-Step, which is a program that is raising awareness about the detriments of meth and how to prevent meth ingredients from being sold over the counter. During my time with UNITE, passion was a very prominent characteristic, as their employees truly want to change lives for the better across the community.

During my fifth internship I was afforded the opportunity to split time between two entities near Corbin, Kentucky that focused upon various non-profit activities.


Applied Information:

Applied Information (AI) is a small private business, located in Corbin, Kentucky, dedicated to creating quality careers for the people of Kentucky by providing Information Technology and Technical Services to a variety of educational, commercial and government entities.

AI has a diverse team, with each member bringing their individual talents and experiences to each project. The team’s background includes a variety of disciplines: engineering, electronics, web technologies, database programming, business, IT and manufacturing. Most AI work is based on the ability to take complex systems and issues, break them down into their most basic components, and provide logical and intuitive solutions.

In their Government Services operation, they have been able to streamline and convert existing old proprietary, non-linked, non-life cycle systems and practices, into state-of- the-art, easy to use, standards-based solutions. Projects they have worked on include projects for the Army and Navy, representing the immediate savings to the Department of Defense.
On the commercial side of the AI business, advanced technology platform support is offered. With dedicated servers linked to Kentucky’s fiber-optic backbone, they have rolled out solutions that support customers nationwide, from their home office in southeastern Kentucky.

During my internship with AI, I worked directly with the lead project manager to outline and develop project plans for several commercial projects which consisted of documenting technical processes and procedures, drafting web and presentation materials, posting data to websites and databases, and working with proprietary and off the shelf software solutions.
While with AI, my general understanding of technology and how it can be utilized by non-profits, and others, was what I enjoyed the most. Before my internship with AI I had a decent understanding concerning modern technology, however AI instilled a much deeper knowledge.


Gowan Company:

Gowan provided an intern position assisting their office manager for the month. Intern duties included: helping with the preparation and running of Gowan’s week-long Annual Marketing Meeting; assisting the building of a database for supply chain supply- agreements; preparing Christmas cards for customer communications; and assisting the director with a specific marketing concept for customers in Mexico called “Go-Pack”.

The Annual Marketing Meeting, is a week-long conference that, brings together the representatives from the company’s branches from around the world (hundreds of employees were at the conference from the U.S., Mexico, Canada, France, Italy, Philippines, UK, Germany, Japan and many other countries). The purpose of the Annual Meeting is to review and reward workers for the past year, explain new products, and fire them up for the year to come. For this meeting, I helped set up decorations, name badges, welcome bags, food, and prepared the computer systems in each room ready for presentations. With food, drinks, and live bands, it was a party every night. During the final night, Gowan rewarded employee longevity of 5, 10, 15 or 20 years with a present and announced the annual bonus, which was determined by setting a profit goal for the company and then dividing the excess between employees. The whole meeting was a weeklong celebration of what it meant to be an employee of Gowan. Not only did the company take care of their employees during this week, it was evident that Gowan treated their employees like family throughout the year. Each week an email was sent out telling what had happened in the past seven days and highlighting major events in the lives of employees, such as birthdays, anniversaries, and births. Each Friday was concluded with a “happy half hour,” complete with appetizers, drinks, and social time, where there was a presentation of the numbers from the past week. The presentation included products that sold well, praising those who were the leading sellers, and where each product was doing well. Gowan constantly checked the profit goal and kept it in front of employees’ eyes.

When compiling supply chain agreements, I made a spreadsheet of existing agreements and found the common variables within them. These characteristics would be used to develop a standard for future supply agreements.

A new project for Gowan is the development of Go-Pack, a farmer assistance program for Mexican farmers. Through Go-Pack, Gowan provides seed and technical support for farmers in exchange for a certain price per box of finished produce that crosses the border into the U.S. This benefits both parties because Mexican farmers normally have to take out a loan to buy seed, and if their crop grows poorly it takes time to order pesticides and fertilizers from across a border. Thus, by the time the crop support arrives, it is often too late to treat the crop, and then farmers do not make money. If the company puts up the money to ensure their availability, both Gowan and Mexican farmers can make a profit in the long run. Currently, Gowan is testing this project on a small scale, and if successful, it will be expanded. Gowan sent teams to Mexican farms to check in with those who were already participating in the program and to sell to other nearby farms. The opportunity to experience a completely new culture and a company willing to assist rural farmers was eye-opening.

Real World Calendar

January 2021
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About the Program

The Real World Leaders - Real World Students Program is a leadership program created in partnership with the University of Kentucky that enables students to work at different work sites across America and observe a wide variety of leadership skills, traits and characteristics.

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